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LONDON- Morley Fund Management is to invest €1.5 billion ($1.8 billion) in continental European property on behalf of a major client.

The expansion will be headed up by Ben Stirling, currently a fund manager within Morley Property’s external funds team, and will seek to roll-out some of the concepts developed there in continental Europe. In particular he will identify suitable partners. The team has been at the forefront of establishing indirect property investment vehicles in the UK, teaming up with specialist asset management partners including Capital & Regional, Ashtenne and Chelsfield.

For asset allocation decisions, continental European property will be treated as a distinct asset class from UK property.

“I am looking forward to building Morley Property’s presence in continental Europe. We will be principally partner led; however, we are prioritizing what we consider to be the more attractive property markets in the region. France is a key focus for us due to its size and liquidity. We are also seeking to identify opportunities in Southern and Central Europe where returns are relatively attractive,” Stirling says.

Morley is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Aviva Group and manages both institutional and retail funds under the Morley brand. It also acts as investment manager for a range of retail investment funds, marketed in the UK by Norwich Union, and international funds marketed under the Aviva Funds brand.

The fund has built a reputation for innovation in property fund management and has launched 10 specialist sector-based funds with partners, including Ashtenne Industrial Fund, Quercus Healthcare Property, the Junction and the Mall.

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